Eco-Justice Ministries  

Eco-Justice Notes
The E-mail Commentary from Eco-Justice Ministries

Where Your Treasure Is
distributed 3/2/01 - ©2001

Jesus reminds us that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)

Several years ago, I was struck by the interesting twist in the phrasing of that passage, when it was used as the theme for a denominational stewardship campaign. Jesus doesn't tell us to get our hearts into the right place, so that our treasure will follow. Rather, he acknowledges that our hearts are more likely to follow the treasure. Put your treasure in heaven, and your heart will come along, too.

Those words of Jesus have come to mind this week, because of some work being done at the church where we have our office. Heating contractors and church volunteers have been putting in many hours evaluating and servicing the church heating system.

This is at a church with a good environmental sensitivity, but the motivation for the work did not come primarily from enlightened values. The incentive is financial. Higher prices for natural gas have had a major impact on the church budget -- an experience the church shares with so many others this winter. Big fuel bills are a powerful motivation to work for energy efficiency.

The church found some remarkably simple ways to be more efficient: close the storm windows (duh!), calibrate the thermostats, turn down the water temperature in the boiler. Adding a few programmable thermostats will help, too.

Realizing where their treasure was going made the church take a fresh look at its heart and its values. The church found wisdom in bringing together their finances and their environmental convictions.

It is my expectation that the work on the boiler will do good, not only for the church budget, but for the spirit of the church, as well. Deciding to spend money on energy efficiency deepens the congregation's broader commitment to caring for all of God's creation. Heart will follow treasure.

But the message is larger than one church's struggle to save money and save the earth.

Our nation as a whole has been hit with energy shocks this winter. Gas and oil prices over much of the country, and electrical shortages in the West, have stimulated a fresh debate about energy policy.

  • Some stress the demand side of the economic equation. They advocate for conservation and efficiency, and also urge the development of alternative energy sources.

  • Some focus on the supply side of the equation. They call for developing the existing energy sources of oil, gas and coal, including exploration in areas that have previously been considered off-limits.
Jesus tells us that our hearts will tag along to where we put our treasure. Our national energy policy will shape our conscience as well as our fuel supply. Ethically and spiritually, do we want to lean toward a reduced dependence on fossil fuels, or do we want to lean toward a spirit of aggressively exploiting the Earth's limited resources?

This season's headlines provide an opportunity for churches to preach and teach about spiritual as well as economic values. Eco-Justice Ministries works with churches to explore creative ways of bringing together the prophetic and the pastoral as we work together for the good of all of God's creation.

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The season of Lent is a busy time for most churches. But it is not too early to look beyond Easter and begin planning for another important occasion.

The Sunday after Easter, April 22, is Earth Day. Around the world, that day is used to lift up the Earth's distress, to explore the problems and solutions, and to work for change on many levels - personal, institutional and societal. It can be a great occasion for congregations to celebrate and strengthen their eco-justice convictions.

The National Council of Churches of Christ has prepared some worship resources for Earth Day 2001, on the theme of "Witnessing to the Resurrection: Caring for God's Creation." Contact your denominational offices or Eco-Justice Ministries if you want a copy of these resources.

In Denver, Eco-Justice Ministries is joining with the Colorado Council of Churches to hold an ecumenical service of worship at 4:00 on Earth Day afternoon. (Full details will be announced soon.) In many communities, religious and secular activities are scheduled for April 22, and throughout the month of April.

Plan ahead so that your congregation can have a meaningful celebration of this annual event!

Shalom!

Peter Sawtell
Executive Director
Eco-Justice Ministries

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Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org   *   E-mail: ministry@eco-justice.org